Not four weeks ago I sat down at the computer, searched the ASIC website to see if the name “MUM’S TAXI” was taken, realised it wasn’t and registered my business.
I’d just arrived home from seeing my lawyer and putting my signature on the divorce papers. I’d cried all the way home. In a matter of a year I’d lost my home and discovered that no bank was going to loan me the money to buy another one on my paltry income of $38,000 per annum. I’d lost my marriage.
I’d just had brain surgery in February to stent an aneurysm. I had four teenagers to raise and the four casual jobs I had were fun but exhausting me. No matter how hard I worked, I couldn’t earn enough to get the bank to give me a home loan to buy another house. I was 47 and about to start driving Ubers in my spare time.
In case you missed it, you can now find your Uber rating. Yep the rating drivers have given you.
My tears were also tears of fear. And trust me I’m not a fearful person. I took to stand-up comedy at 34 and became the first female footy coach of teenage boys in Australia in 2013. But I was scared of being in a car, my own car, with men who I didn’t know and could be drunk or high or angry or violent.
I know there are fabulous blokes who’d never dream of causing a woman distress. They just don’t come with a Harry Potter scar sadly. And in a small space travelling at speed it’s a risky situation.
I dried my tears and weaved my way through the boxes, bike helmets and school bags. I thought of calling one of the kids to growl at them for not bringing in the washing. I couldn’t stop thinking about the driving job. I so did NOT want to do it.
‘Why can’t I spend my time driving girls like my 18 year old daughter and her gorgeous but so young friends? Or women like my grandmother? That’d be lovely. Why can’t I just drive women?’ I decided that if you want something done you have to do it yourself. So I brought in the washing and registered the company.
I immediately knew how I wanted Mum’s Taxi to look and feel for both drivers and passengers. (Don’t worry I’ve already been bagged for the name. I want the passenger to feel like she is being collected by her mum, not that my drivers have to be mums).
I got to work on the legals and the accounts. I kept writing down ideas and going over and over the strategy. I contacted the app developer and specified everything I wanted this app to do for the women and parents of Australia. When he said it was doable and and I realised that with the money from the sale of the house I could afford stage one, there was no going back.
After 10 days I called on a dear friend and she began researching and organising all the things I couldn’t. I was on my way.
I don’t want to have to put a boozed friend in a cab ever again and hope she gets home safe. I don’t want to take a screen shot of a cab’s number plate to be used as a deterrent or evidence. I don’t want my daughter to have to make the choice to walk home rather than take an Uber or a cab because she feels safer on the street.
I don’t want to have to be lectured by a cab driver about the sins of divorce and the damage I’ve done to my children (this has happened twice) and why every woman should have a husband. To not chat is rude, to chat can lead to things you don’t want to hear or answer or be told. I don’t want to get out of a car early so the driver doesn’t know where I live. I don’t want to see girls swaying at taxi ranks while equally drunk blokes chat them up.
I want something different. I want a choice. I want the service that I’m bringing to Australia. Mum’s Taxi.
I want to see women driving each other home safe. Helping each other out with dropping kids to activities and getting our elderly mothers to the appointments they need to get to.
This is my vision; Women helping each other earn, care and party in a way that’s safe and flexible. Drivers will keep 85% of their takings. I’ll pay my Australian corporate taxes. I’ll make sure our rideshare drivers have all the required safety checks plus working with children cards and where feasible, boosters and bolts for baby capsules.
I will be lobbying the governments of Queensland and Victoria to allow us to operate in those states where ridesharing is happening, but not legally. Every woman should have the right to choose who escorts her home. We keep telling women to be careful, but give them no option but to travel home with a man she doesn’t know. Your help will go a long way in making this happen.
Once we are national, 1 per cent of every fare will go towards charities supporting women and children. I hope you can support this.
George McEncroe is a comedian and mother-of-four. You can check out her crowdfunding website here.